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The Results of Burning River’s 2017 Pre-Season MLB Predictions

With integrity in mind, the staff at Burning River Baseball holds itself accountable with this look back at our league wide pre-season predictions. Predictions were made by Joseph Coblitz, Mike Melaragno, John Hutchison, Caitlin Boron, Justin Lada, Gavin Potter or Burning River Baseball and Brad Wojdyla of the CLE Baseball & Brews podcast.

Division Central Standings
Finish Actual Joe Mike John Cait Justin Gavin Brad
1 CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE
2 MIN DET MIN DET DET DET DET DET
3 KC KC CWS KC KC KC KC KC
4 CWS MIN KC MIN MIN MIN CHW MIN
5 DET CWS DET CWS CWS CHW MIN CWS

While we don’t attempt to predict the exact order of every division anymore as it is an impossible task, we still look at the order of the Central. This year, everyone correctly predicted the Indians to win and all but Mike chose KC as the third team. Where things got interesting was how far ahead of schedule Minnesota is and how quickly Detroit fell apart. In a full rebuild, the consensus was that Chicago would finish last. Here, Mike was the only one nearly correct as he had Minnesota second and Detroit last.

Division & Wild Card Winners
American Actual Joe Mike John Cait Justin Gavin Brad
West HOU HOU HOU TEX TEX HOU HOU TEX
Central CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE CLE
East BOS BOS BOS BOS BOS BOS BOS BOS
WC1 NYY SEA TB HOU TOR TEX TEX HOU
WC2 MIN TEX TOR NYY BAL TOR NYY SEA

Expanding to the rest of the American League, everyone swept the field with Boston winning the East as they did with Cleveland in the Central. In the west, all but John, Cait and Brad had Houston and John and Brad both had them taking a Wild Card. Of course, all three were pre-season favorites, so the level of difficulty on these pics wasn’t that great.

Where the big surprises came was in the Wild Cards. The predictions were everywhere althgouh Texas was most possible with all except Mike picking them to make the post-season in one manner or another. Only John and Gavin correctly chose the Yankees to take a Wild Card and no one picked the Twins. This shouldn’t be too surprising as only Mike had them as the second best team in the Central in the last section. What may be more interesting is that no one predicted any team from the Central would take a Wild Card.

Division & Wild Card Winners
National Actual Joe Mike John Cait Justin Gavin Brad
West LAD LAD LAD LAD LAD LAD LAD SF
Central CHC CHC CHC CHC CHC CHC CHC CHC
East WAS WAS NYM WAS NYM NYM WAS WAS
WC1 AZ NYM SF NYM STL WSH SF LAD
WC2 COL STL WAS SF SF AZ COL NYM

Just like in the AL, the three strong pre-season favorites won their divisions and myself, John and Gavin took the easy way for the win. In fact, the Dodgers and Cubs were picked by everyone down the line except for Brad, who chose the 64-98 Giants (literally the worst team in baseball) to win the West.

As bad as the Giants were, the Mets really disappointed everyone as all but Gavin had them in the post-season in some manner. Of course, everyone but Justin and myself had the Giants in as well. As surprising as the AL Wild Cards were, the NL’s may have been even more so and only one writer picked Arizona to make it (Justin) and the same was true of Colorado (Gavin).

Play-Offs
Play-Offs Actual Joe Mike John Cait Justin Gavin Brad
AL Champ HOU CLE HOU CLE CLE CLE BOS CLE
NL Champ LAD CHC LAD LAD NYM CHC LAD SF
World Series HOU CLE LAD CLE CLE CHC LAD CLE

As far off as he was in some places, Mike was the only writer to correctly pick the two pennant winners even though he got the winner wrong along with everyone else. Gavin and John also picked Los Angeles to win the NL pennant, but none had Houston for the AL. This was probably our home town bias sneaking in as straight down the line all but Mike and Gavin, who took Boston, thought the Indians would go all the way.

AL Awards AL Awards
Award Actual Joe Mike John Cait Justin Gavin Brad
MVP Jose Altuve  Trout Buxton Lindor Lindor Trout Betts Trout
CY  Corey Kluber Salazar Gausman Sale Carrasco Darvish Sale Hernandez
RoY Aaron Judge Moncada Gurriel Benintendi Benintendi Benintendi Jose De Leon Benintendi

There has to be some sense of irony that with all the homer picks made throughout these predictions, no one picked the correct answer of Corey Kluber as Cy Young or the top Indians vote getter, Jose Ramirez, at MVP. To be fair, the three picks of Mike Trout likely would have been accurate had he stayed healthy all year and every MVP prediction received at least one MVP vote. Trout officially finsihed fourth, Francisco Lindor, chosen by John and Cait, came in 5th, Mookie Betts came in sixth and even Mike’s pick of Byron Buxton came in 18th.

As for Cy Young, as a staff we may have tried to get too cute. The obvious guesses going into the year were Chris Sale and Kluber, but only Gavin and John chose the #2 finisher Sale. Yu Darvish, Justin’s pick, didn’t receive a vote, possibly harmed by switching leagues mid-season and neither did Felix Hernandez, who missed a large chunk of the season with injury. Cait’s pick of Carrasco did come in fourth, the best non-Sale selection while Kevin Gausman had a fairly terrible season for Baltimore.

Propped up by a great appearance in the 2016 Future’s Game and Arizona Fall League, I may have jumped the gun on Yoan Moncada who didn’t come up for the White Sox until very late in the season. Yuli Gurriel and Andrew Benintendi, chosen by five of the other six voters, were much better choices as Benintendi finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and Gurriel fourth. While no one picked the obvious winner, Aaron Judge, no prediction was anywhere near as far off as Gavin’s choice of Jose De Leon, who made just one appearance during the entire 2017 season and allowed three runs in 2.2 innings. Better luck next year to both Gavin and De Leon.